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CES 2013: Rumored 'Steam Box' could be Valve and Xi3's Piston

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Valve's long-rumored Steam Box console -- a home gaming system based on Valve's PC game service -- could have been revealed at CES 2013 this week. Valve and Xi3 announced the Piston, a name being used for a "development stage product" that is designed for gamers to enjoy Steam games anywhere -- the home, the bedroom, LAN gaming parties. It's designed to connect to the big screen TV with Steam service through its Big Picture mode.

A prototype of the Piston is available for viewing at CES this week, but Valve and Xi3 have made it clear that they have no plans to reveal any more details than what they have already said. The demo unit of Piston featured an IO board boasting one ethernet port, 1/8" audio in/out, SPDIF optical audio, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports (with one dedicated to keyboard input), four eSATAp ports, two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port. Exact prices, release dates, tech specs, or other features have not be revealed, but we do know a few basic concepts about the system.

First, the Piston is based on Xi3's X7A modular system which has a quad-core processor, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, up to 1TB of solid state storage, and support for three monitors. It also has a starting price of $999, which could give us an idea for what the Piston could cost. Remember, those specs don't necessarily reflect what's actually inside of the Piston or at what price it would be if released. For all we know, Valve and Xi3 could lose money on each system sold and hope to make it up through game sales.

Second, the goal of the Piston is to unite all of your games on to one single device and to avoid the hassle of the ever-changing technological world while allowing for easy upgrade. As Xi3 explained, when new technology comes out, you're typically left out. Xi3's modular computers are designed to be upgraded over time, meaning when new technology is released you simply buy a new board with all of the upgrades included. And the Piston is designed to simplify the process of upgrading as compared to a computer which requires you to think about the requirements you'll need in the future.

There's still a lot of questions that remain up in the air based on what we've seen so far, but it seems this somewhat vague reveal is all we'll get for now. From what we've been told, are you excited for the potential of the Piston?

[Image via Polygon]

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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